National data indicates that many of today’s college graduates transfer at some point on their way to a degree. This is true among student-athletes, as well, and may be most visible in Division I men’s basketball. Tracking movement from school to school for research purposes can be difficult, but recent NCAA studies have done just that and uncovered some interesting findings:
- The rate of transfer between four-year colleges in Division I men’s basketball is high relative to most other sports, but not the highest (see tables in full report).
- The percentage of 4-4 transfers (those who transfer from one four-year institution to another) on Division I men’s basketball squads increased in 2018 and 2019 (blue line in Figure 1), while the rate of two-year college transfers in men’s basketball has remained relatively flat (red line).
- That said, about 40% of all men’s basketball players who enter Division I directly out of high school depart their initial school by the end of their sophomore year.
Where do these transfers end up? Transfers were identified by merging the 2020 Division I Basketball Transfers list from the Verbal Commits website with all Division I men’s basketball student-athletes listed in the 2019-20 Transfer Portal. Of the scholarship players on the list, 648 were identified as transferring to another school and joining the basketball team. In 2020, 63% of the transfers went to another Division I school, which was an increase from 2019 (54%). The percentage transferring to Division II remained near 25%, while those leaving for non-NCAA colleges (two-year colleges or National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics schools) declined to their lowest levels since we began tracking transfers (Figure 2). Similar to years past, 1 in 10 “up-transferred” to a more competitive program.
NCAA GOALS survey data finds close to 90% of all men’s basketball transfers say they leave for athletic reasons. Absent proper academic planning, many of these student-athletes lose credits upon transfer and register lower Academic Progress Rates and graduation rates at their new schools than seen among nontransfers
Download a PDF copy of this Extra Point: Tracking Transfer in Division I Men’s Basketball
(Published Feb. 2021)